Career Advice: 10 Most Common Interview Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them) — guest post by Priyanka Misra
Job interviews are like first dates: Good impressions count; Awkwardness can occur; Outcomes are unpredictable.
Your palms tend to get sweaty and you clam up. Or you get self-conscious and start talking non-stop to fill every pause in the conversation.
Both, not good scenarios.
If you get that first impression wrong, that would most likely be the end of the line for you! No second date and definitely no amazing job.
But worry no more. We have the perfect list of dos and don’ts to get you through any interview, with flying colours.
Mistake #1: Lack of preparedness before interview
Job interviews can be tough. Some are the nerve-racking types, while others just reduce your legs to jelly, in an instant.
But you can never be prepared enough! And here is how you do it:
- Understand the Job Description: You would like to know what the role requires of candidates and how your skills match with the job in question!
- Research about the Company and Interviewers: When a candidate is completely clued-in on the company background, it reflects his/her genuine interest in the role. But to earn those extra brownie points, it would help to read through the LinkedIn profile of your interviewer and mention about it in passing!
- Carry a perfectly formatted, comprehensive and well-worded resume: Even if you have already shared the digital copy with them, it always helps to keep a copy of your CV handy, for the reference of interviewers.
- Be prepared with answers to common interview questions: Remember that one time you ended up sounding pretentious and deceptive by saying that your biggest flaw is your drive for “perfectionism”? Or when you couldn’t tell the interviewer where you see yourself 10 years down the line?
Don’t let that happen ever again. Create a regularly updated roster of such common questions, that you can keep referring to before each interview.
Mistake #2: Not keeping your phone on silent
One just can’t stress enough on the importance of keeping distractions to a minimum during an interview.
By just keeping the phone in meeting/silent mode, you show respect for the interviewer and also allow the interview to proceed without any interruptions.
Mistake #3: Wearing inappropriate clothing
It’s not just about not wearing loud or revealing outfits. One needs to research on the company culture before picking out the perfect “interview-outfit”. With a spurt in start-up culture, in India, more and more companies encourage you to wear what you are comfortable in.
But when in doubt, err on the side of caution and wear sensible business suit and shoes.
It also helps to power dress, in order to look and feel confident to tackle the pressures of an interview.
Mistake #4: Arriving late to the interview
A BIG NO! If you can’t respect other people’s time, your candidature will most likely not be respected. Even if you have a really good excuse for being late, if reflects poorly on your punctuality.
So, always check traffic situation and aim to reach at least 15 minutes prior to the interview.
Mistake #5: Appearing too excited or under-excited
When you really want the job, you can’t let it show. Needy and over-enthusiastic candidates put themselves in a position of lower bargaining power. And just like that, good-bye stellar pay-package!
The same end result applies for when you look uninterested or bored with the role on offer. The interviewer will interpret it as lack of seriousness towards the role, causing you to miss out on the opportunity!
The trick, therefore, is to be professional, amiable and composed, while showing just the requisite amount of interest in the company and the role.
Mistake #6: Criticizing the previous employer
No matter how much you hated your last organization or how unfair they were to you, an interview is definitely not the forum to talk about it. For, if one resorts to mud-slinging, it would only show immaturity and lack of loyalty.
Stay professional, when outlining the challenges faced in your previous organization.
Mistake #7: Exhibiting poor body language
There is much more to cracking the interview than just speaking correctly! Your body posture and facial expressions almost tend to be a window into your soul.
If you slouch, are shifty eyed, or if your body language communicates arrogance, the interviewer might just write you off!
The trick is to maintain regular eye contact, give firm handshakes, smile occasionally and sit well-poised!
It’s your interview to conquer; stay classy and confident as you do so!
Mistake #8: Not asking the right questions
When the interviewer asks if you have any questions for them, never say no.
There is so much you don’t know about the workplace, its culture or the team you could be joining. You might not even know how soon the role needs to be filled!
By asking the right questions, you will be able to make an informed decision about whether the role is really meant for you! It also gives the interviewer the impression that you have thought well and hard about the role and not just applied on a whim.
Mistake #9: Forgetting to follow up
Consider the fact that you’ve had a very successful interview. Then weeks go by and surprisingly you don’t hear from them. And by then you feel awkward asking about the status of your application.
Wonder why? Chances are your candidature was forgotten.
What should you have done to prevent this? Write a pleasant email, thanking them for the interaction (interview). In the email, you could also ask when you can expect to hear from them.
This way you know when to follow up and your application will be fresh on their minds (and on their email)!
Mistake #10: Giving wrong recommendations
Your job references are the ones who will boost your eligibility score for that coveted role, once the interview is over. They need to be carefully selected and then asked for permission to include them in your reference list. But don’t ever lie about your references! That would be akin to career-suicide.
Now that we are all done, start tweaking these pointers to suit your personality and the vibe of each interview. At the end of the day, it’s about setting the right chemistry.
So, the next time you have an interview to take, think of how you would approach it as a first date. Just like in the case of finding a life partner, remember you are not trying to land just any job. You are looking for the right one.
It’s a huge commitment to make on both fronts; making it really important for both parties to truly know each other.
So get out there into the job-hunting circuit, and land yourself that perfect role!